I’ve been remiss in reflecting on my profession and work lately. Partly this is because I’ve been working … a lot … and haven’t found the time. Now that the semester is slowing down I’m more interested in just having some fun. But thinking about the release of the Desolation of Smauggggg (fun!) got me mulling over the role of the story in my life and how freaking powerful stories have been. So, in the spirit of seasonal reflection, here is why I love the stories.
First, a little background. On September 10, 2001 I received news that completely changed the trajectory of my life. I don’t need or want to share it, but was honestly devastating. I felt like my life had ended and I wasn’t sure where the future was headed. The next morning I woke up to one of the most tragic but also surreal events in my young life. Two months later I moved away from a place that had become my home to start a new life. One of the first things I did was to go see The Fellowship of the Ring. It is difficult to express exactly how much I think that movie saved me. I know it is meant to stir emotions through score and dialogue (film critic, blah blah blah), but, you know what? It worked. It made me feel like no matter what I was going through or the country was experiencing or how crazymaking our President was, everything would be OK. No matter how much crap there is in the world, there is always still hope.
In January 2002 I moved to Croatia and had a wonderful time. After nine months though I became extremely sick with pneumonia. I spent my last month in the country trying to heal, and during that time I re-read the Lord of the Rings. Again the story kept me from feeling like a big ball of despair.
As you can imagine, I’ve been looking forward to The Hobbit for a long, long time.
Granted “fantasy” is not for everyone, but genre isn’t the point. The point is how powerful, meaningful, and healing those stories are for me. They are like personal touchstones. I only need to think about them and I know the world can be right and good (if only in my head).
I don’t think it needs to be a particular type of literature or even fiction versus nonfiction. Some of my favorite nonfiction writers, like Tony Horwitz, are able to engage the reader by telling a powerful story. I also don’t think it has to be about books all the time. I personally could not get into the Harry Potter books because of Rowling’s writing style, but I love the movies. They are truly almost (dare I say it) magical. They transport you. They make you feel OK again.
So, I am excited about vacation and having time to engage with the stories I find emotionally resonant. I am also excited about the movie coming out. I know it isn’t the original narrative, but I don’t care. It will still be wonderful. It will still be my story.
I wish you all a wonderful holiday season and lots of time with your stories.